Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Seattle Mariners and their "fans"

I remember riding into Seattle on a train from Portland about one and a half years ago.  It was on that trip that we decided to move here.  As you come into town on that train, you get a close-up view of Safeco field.  That giant roof with the big metal spines and tracks for moving.  The companion Century Link Field (formerly Quest) with its own metal spines.  


Since that time, I have been waiting patiently, but with great anticipation, for my first visit.  When my birthday came around, that seemed like a good time to "splurge."  There was a deal on the cheap seats, but hey, I am not working.  We were going to see the Angels.  The Mariners did not seem to have any deals when someone was playing that you really wanted to see, but maybe that is because I am from the East Coast.

To be honest, I am a lifelong Cubs fan.  I used to live a few blocks from Wrigley Field, close enough to hear the crowds.  But moving to Seattle, I decided I had to pull for the local teams, at least when they are not playing my teams.  I always hated people who would never pull for a team in a city where they had lived for years.  So I watched a few games on television.  I got to know a few of the players.  This was going to be my first real stab at being a fan.

Safeco Field is not Wrigley.  Nothing is.  The intimacy and history are thrilling there.  However, Safeco Field is spectacular.  It is my favorite of the "newer" baseball stadiums I have visited.  Its design is not purely utilitarian.  It has some finesse.   
This was going to be a big fun evening, so we started a little early with drinks beforehand. It turns out that Pink has an excellent happy hour and that was right near our meeting spot. We then took the LINK light rail across to Pioneer Square and hit our favorite dive bar, Double Header. We had been warned to stay away from some of the more popular places, though none of them seemed slammed that night. The excitement started building as we walked down the blocked-off road leading to the stadium. I loved that all these street food vendors were given a place to sell stuff to the crowds. I loved entering the stadium from the northwest corner and riding up escalators. I was proudly wearing Cubs cap. I did not think I would catch too much flak add they are in a different league than the Mariners. Yet we were quickly drawn to the team store. We do love to buy stuff and this was my birthday celebration. Plus I wanted to embrace my new city. I picked out a fresh new Mariners cap. The vendor said it looked better than my Cubs hat. Poke, poke. I was starting to feel a little pride in my new town. 

We headed to our seats after grabbing a beer. It was a baseball game after all. I was surprised that the selection was not better, though they had a couple of decent choices. But with all the breweries here, they could have done better. They had acceptable food choices, and Starbucks of course. We were in the nosebleeds, but still had a great view. Good stadium design! Greg commented on the small crowd. We were a few minutes early and it was a week night. He pointed out that we'd give to Wrigley on a weekday afternoon. Maybe Wrigley was smaller. I looked it up and it is not much smaller. Why was I making excuses for Seattle?  It was just not a good crowd.

Now I was beginning to learn a bit about Seattle and the Mariners.  I heard one acquaintance say that he always liked to go to games at the beginning of the season when there was still a chance that they might do well.  This was September and the Mariners had broken a record for most consecutive losses.  Maybe people had just lost interest.  Of course that is appalling to a Cubs fan who is well accustomed to pulling for a team with no chance at the World Series.  Someone else tried to tell me that people in Seattle just did not care about baseball.  They are much more into football (and soccer evidently).  I was skeptical based upon the number of Mariners caps I had seen around town.  That trident is pretty cool.

As the game progressed, I began to learn something else about Seattle.  Being good sports, Greg and I cheered loudly for the Mariners.  The problem was that nobody else was.  We started some cheers and managed to convince a few neighbors to cheer along, but it never spread.  The local next to me said that people in Seattle don't like to get too excited.  She kept making fun of the measured responses, but I began to see that the joke was too close to reality.  Even the standard ballpark organ would only play a couple of rounds of each rally song, presumably for fear of whipping the crowd into some kind of frenzy.  Some people thrive on crowd support.  Others, like us, relish a little standing up in the face of disinterest.  We did attract the momentary attention of some security people, and the people in our section let us know that they backed us up.  But there was going to be no rowdy crowd that night.  And it was even a good game, as the Mariners only lost by one run.

 great view from the top of Safeco

Next year, I will head to a game earlier in the season.  We will see if it makes a difference.  Maybe Ichiro will be back to peak form.

1 comment:

  1. What in the world? I can see a low turnout. Maybe the almost self-deprecating fun of cheering on a team with a losing record is more of a tradition in Chicago, lol. So your plan sounds good. And even tepid behavior - baseball is not my thing, but it seems like there is an easygoing atmosphere, and that it could be fun to go and just be laid back. But how weird that people (and security!?) would react negatively to you guys trying to get some support going!

    At least there were some positives - I love your love of the stadium design and aestheits, Art. It's so you. :)